Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Why was FlashForward canceled?

by Rob - June 23rd, 2013.
Filed under: FlashForward.

Over on Quora, someone asked why FlashForward was canceled, and someone else replied with an answer that was partially right but significantly wrong. That answer:

The Lost curse. In the 6 years that Lost was on the air, ABC failed at using that monster hit to launch any new shows. The term “Flash Forward” was first used in the third season finale of Lost, and the show featured Lost alumni Dominic Monaghan and Sonya Walger.

ABC launched FlashForward as well as a remake of V (with Lost‘s Elizabeth Mitchell) as shows that would take on Lost‘s audience after it ended. At the end, it was reported a choice between FlashForward and V over which one would continue, and ABC went with V, which only lasted one more season.

My response:

Despite XXXX’s comment (he asserts “the term ‘Flash Forward’ was first used in the third season finale of Lost” — as if that’s where the idea came from), that’s just not true.

FlashForward the TV series was an adaptation of my 1999 novel of the same name, published five years before the first season of Lost debuted.

More: as announced in Variety on 26 September 2002 — two years before Lost debuted — David Goyer was attached then to write, direct, and produce an adaptation of my novel FlashForward … which is precisely what Dave eventually went on to do (co-authoring the pilot with Brannon Braga).

Also, the pilot script for FlashForward was developed at HBO (which is why HBO is credited on each episode); HBO was not looking to imitate anything on broadcast TV. The casting of Sonya Walger (who appeared in only 14 of the 121 episodes of Lost) as FlashForward‘s female lead was in no way an attempt at Lost-related stunt casting.

FlashForward was cancelled for two reasons. The first was scheduling: the series was not suitable viewing for 8:00 p.m. / 7:00 p.m. Central (the traditional TV “family hour”), but that’s when ABC slotted it (and kept it for its entire run): the intensity, violence, gun use, and presence of a major lesbian character, brilliantly played by Christine Woods, is not what America wanted in that timeslot. So, by the end of the first season, the ratings were low.

The second reason was budgetary: Stephen McPherson, then president of ABC, did only want to keep one science-fiction show. In the end, we were delivering the same ratings each week as V, also on ABC, but we were produced in Los Angeles and had an expensive cast; V was produced in Vancouver and had a much less expensive cast. So, V was (sort of) renewed and we were not.

Robert J. Sawyer online:

49 Responses to Why was FlashForward canceled?

  1. Also, the show just wasn’t that good. It was over-acted, over-dramatic, and almost nothing like your book, which I enjoyed thoroughly. Maybe if they stuck to the source material, it would have earned higher ratings?

  2. I’ve all but given up on television all together, and especially the Big Three (ABC/NBC/CBS) U.S. networks, over their track record of cancelling great Sci-Fi shows. It doesn’t really matter why the show was cancelled, at least from an emotional stand point. Once you are drawn into the show, and begin relating to the characters, it can be a real blow when you get cut off from your weekly fix.

    For the record, “Defying Gravity” was the worst; ABC didn’t even finish the season out. That was when I decided that I wasn’t going to go out of my way to get emotionally invested in television anymore. If it’s on Netflix, or BBC America, I might take a look, but otherwise, I’d rather read a book.

    Art Hall

    P.S. – Keep the books coming; I haven’t been disappointed yet! :)

  3. I think
    the reason is more simple than these
    they were afraid… when had been seeing it’s coming true

  4. I really enjoyed this programme and I am very disappointed at the fact that it was cancelled. I was wondering and hoping if you were planning to bring it back at all?
    I would love to see the second season. This was actually recommended to me by a few of my friends and they are also hoping for it to be continued.

    Flash Forward Viewer

  5. Thank you, Jack. Sadly, at this point, there’s virtually no chance of the show coming back. All of the actors, as well as the writers, including myself, have gone on to other things.

  6. I too thoroughly enjoyed the both the book and the television adaptation. Having recently purchased and watched the DVD set of the programme, I was saddened to realise that there would not be another series, but it also left me feeling that with so many loose ends and threads of storylines floating about, I can picture my own conclusions… perhaps this is unsatisfactory to some, but it pushes one to use ones own imagination.
    No bad thing.

  7. i really loved the twists and turns of events in the first season especially the manner in which suspence was created at the end of the season this fully prepared one 2 watching even a more intreasting and eye catching season 2 of the series and i really looked foward to watching the second season only to realize that the show had completely gone offline… n despite the great hope n expectation tht i had ae only wea left wth one last n only standing option which was to come up wth my own conclutions n turn of events that wea rather not real but rather made up to satisfy my ego….i really would love it if ‘better angels’ would rise n turn the future n fate of the television show n thus grant us the second chance to watch the second season of flashfoward..

    ‘better Angel’

  8. I just finished watching the 22 episodes of season 1 in just a few days. Watched it on Hulu. Really enjoyed it and wish the show had not been cancelled. The flashes of the next possible futures, though brief, were intriguing. Will hope that someone, somewhere will decide to bring the show back.

  9. Last night i had a blackout and the vision said season 2 is gonna come soon.

  10. bring flash forward series 2, such an excellent tv series. they left too many questions.

  11. flashforward is an amazing tv show, i loved it and i cant find anything wrong about. please bring it back, i really love to see more

  12. getting into a show is a magical experience it’s like you are there with the cast, a second life I know it has been a few years but it’s never to late to bring a show back please do. It was a great show and without it I lose myself

    Sincerely flashfoward fan

  13. I happened upon the series after I had my son and loved it. Soon I had even gotten my boyfriend and his best friend hooked on it. I wish it would have went farther than it did but I will now put your book on the top of my to read list.

  14. i m a big fan of flashforward from serbia,also think the show was great,must get book,sorry for saying this but most of america is stupid,simply dont let the kids watch the show and so f….g what if lead female role is gay, i just cant believe the show didnt have enough rateing to be continued
    sorry for my poor speling

  15. I just started watching flash forward and it’s one of the best series show i ever seen

  16. Flash forward is a great show. I accidentally stumbled across it while searching YouTube. It’s safe to say I was instantly hooked and watched the complete series in about 3 days. To now find out that this show has been cancelled is very disappointing .

  17. Think u show air series 2 in northern ireland loved the first one watched it several times

  18. first of all i just want to thank you for this awesome story .i first watched this series in 2010 and it kinda stuck in my head so i re watched it now in 2015 … i really like science fiction stories and i think i will buy your book …. and i am a chemical student so i really liked the show

  19. I would love to see this show return again. As much as it hurts me to say this, could the show be rebooted if the reason we didnt get 2nd season is because the initial cast to do other projects?
    FlashForward fan

  20. I have just finished watching Flashforward on DVD, done a search for season 2 and look at that, no season 2, why do the “big 3” do this, just cancel a programme when the ratings are not good enough, I thoroughly emjoyed this and would have loved to see if they could make a seaon 2 to be as good if not better.
    All’s i can say to the peope that camcelled this, your ar*eholes

  21. I’m still missing this show too. I wish someone else would take the lead and give us a few more seasons of this show.

  22. ff was a great TV show…period!!!!!

  23. I myself found quickly that I was obsessed with Flashforward. Watching it weekly on Thursdays back in 2010 and now atleast yearly rewatching season 1 and sharing the passion with a friend. The only thing I can’t get past, since I had to accept the fact that the show itself is gone, is what would’ve happened next? How could these new profound questions be answered in the seasons to come? If you, Rob, could share any if all insight as to what kind of things would’ve happened next it would mean so much to myself, my friends my family and I’m sure millions of other fans. 12 million people viewed the start of Flashforward and would love to know. Is Mark really alive? What happens to Janice? So many unanswered questions that make our minds go wild! Thank you so much for creating such an inspiring and captivating story Mr.Sawyer. Happy New Year!

  24. FlashForward’s biggest flaw was that its existence overlapped that of Lost’s when they should’ve actually had it replace Lost a year later. Time-slot issues or not, I don’t believe the audience as a whole was capable of actively following two mind-bending series simultaneously.

    Had ABC aired FlashForward a year later, all television fans would be glued to it today.

    5 1/2 years after its cancellation, I still have a burning disappointment and even a sense of betrayal by ABC. While that may sound extreme, my emotions reflect the extremely bad instinct to cancel an extremely good show that delivered on it’s high-premise week, after week, after week…

    It was perfect, and I dare to say it — potentially better than Lost… and I LOVED Lost!

    While I’ll never forgive ABC, I’m thrilled to hear this was based off of a book you wrote. I’ll be purchasing it immediately.

    Thanks for sharing your talent!

  25. I love the TV-Show, and the original book, but I love it more for the Story, than the visuals. A novel – or even novelette – that would provide a conclusion for the TV-Show-Story would be greatly appreciated. (I read the Veronica Mars Novels as well)

    I felt a sense of betrayal as well. I realize that Networks have to calculate a financal risk, but at least have the curtesy to finish the story with a double Feature or TV-movie. I rarely start to watch TV-Shows with an overreaching Arc anymore because of my fear for cancellation. I would, if I could be reasonable sure, that they at least have an emergency end planned.
    In the long run networks will cancel themselves with this Kind of behavior.


  27. I wish the actors and writers would sit down and make season 2. I was so upset that it ended where it did.
    Still think to this day it is the best serie I’ve ever watched!

  28. What the hell was the cancellation for?… O my God! How cud they do dis 2mi? Kupida n mopida says I shud kip watching so I cud answer my heart filled questions n qwali agrees. Pls sum1 shud jus bring bk dis movie series plsssssssss………… one love mark!

  29. I’ll be less demanding.
    Can we have a continuation of the story in a book ?

  30. I love this show so much, it was so cool, and I really wanted to see more! What I don’t get is that they say the ratings were low, but according to Wiki, FF started with 12M viewers, and ended with just under 5M viewers. Pretty Little Liar has less than 5M viewers per episode, so why has it been renewed for 6 seasons? I really can’t understand this, please explain someone? FF is one of those series that got me hooked from day 1 and it’s so unfortunate that we didn’t get to see its full potential. Thanks to the writers and cast, I hope they bring it back =)

  31. Please bring it back or i’ll not survive! I saw this in my flash

  32. Greatest show ever created

  33. I came across FF by chance on the internet in 2016 and i watched the entire series in 1 week. I am not a big fan of tv series but this is by far one of the best sci-fi shows i’ve ever seen for richness of plot, good actors and overall technical level. I do like very much sci-fi in general but rarely in tv shows (i quit V after a couple of episodes and LOST before the end of the first season) and i find UNBELIEVABLE that FF was canceled for poor ratings or budget reasons. There must be something profoundly wrong in the way these decisions are taken, wrong people with wrong criteria…

  34. I, also, came across FlashForward by chance on Hulu. This show is absolutely terrific. The story line is so facinating and the actors are great! I am sorry that this series is cancelled. It is such a shame. I was in school at the time of it’s airing so, I didn’t have time to watch television. I wish there were more seasons. It’s the same scenario as the show ‘Terra Nova’. A one hit wonder!!
    Such a shame!!

  35. Since they’ve long decided the show is done, it’s only appropriate that they release the plan for at least season 2. They claim they had a five year story arch, so I’d rather them release that. Thoughts? Chances of that happening?

  36. Just rewatching the show now, wow Flashforward had SO much going for it!
    Why oh why was it cancelled?

  37. I have a very simple theory, Flash Forward was put on TV way to fast after Lost.. I think had they have waited for the fans to get over Lost who many had put years of viewing into with a very emotional ending it was going to be far to much for them to just jump ship to FF.. I think if it was released 12-24 months after Lost finally aired or even if it was far more recent we may well be looking at the next big thing on TV. It was also a massive shame Netflix, Amazon was not around at the time as they would have had the budget to carry this on. Ratings in the UK where very good and Channel 5 looked to take it on bit the cost was to large.


  38. I really enjoyed this show. From Ghana.I watched it in 2012 n having wishing on my stars that the show be renewed. I still hope cos I really like the science fiction. it makes me want to know more that there is know about science. I never heard of any show called V. n I bet my country people too didn’t hear.watched lost for about 3 seasons n lost interest. cos I was disappointed about the flash

  39. Maybe someone already said this in the comments and I didn’t see it, but I think the reason it fell off was because they had a mid season break after episode 10. I watched the first 10 episodes, liked the show, but then didn’t get started on the 2nd half of the season when it came back on. I thought I would just catch up later, but then it was cancelled.

    I’m sure i’m not the only person who dropped off during the break.

  40. I think Andrew you are correct, I actually started watching this via a proxy on Hulu when I was working in Trinidad and Tobago and as you say it was always going to fail if they had a mid season break. I watched the first season with my wife again not so long ago and she was hooked. Loved the characters and there are some really memorable quote, “I have a massive hippo campus FYI”… At the very least I would have settled for a Movie that could tie up the first season and having a large blackboard with a date and THE END at the top and never knowing the outcome is like having a massive red button in front of you that you cannot push. Out of interest is the flashforward book avai on audio anywhere. I have a friend that would like the concept but has bad eyes. Regards

  41. The audio for the book is available on Amazon. Sure wish they would make a movie.

  42. Yes! A Movie would be great :D

  43. Good day I am Brazilian and come to one season and enjoyed the series she pretended who ta watching pence in 2 season will be better!
    Thank you Marcos Melo

  44. I’m so mad that I decided to re-watch this show on Hulu. I’ve gotten re-attached and emotionally invested into this show. I’m currently watching the last episode and I’m so sad knowing that I’m almost done.

    PLEASE BRING THE SHOW BACK….It’s been years and people are still talking about it. That should say something.

  45. Hi, I saw season 1 it was just mind boggling, some loop halls but it was very thrilling, Need it back, all characters are so live, I feel I am watching real FBI people and all are real world, Please bring it back :)

    Fan of flash forward from present day.

  46. I just finished watching the entire season on Hulu and can’t get over the fact that there is no chance of the show coming back for season 2. Based on the comments above, there are more fans now waiting for the continuation of a fantastic storyline. Bring the show back!!!

  47. Just finished watching, i originally watched it in the UK when aired, but the mid season stop was a real downer, i never picked up on until now and just power watched all 22 episodes, so was good to have that.

    however, its no more and it kinda sucks. will have t rewatch lost now

  48. Flashforward was the best… bar none… series i’ve ever seen on television. I was instantly hooked on it when it first aired and was disappointed and extremely puzzled to know why it was cancelled. I’ve finished season 1 only this year. It is very interesting to know why the flash forward of the little girl is already into her adult years and why Mark Benford was lost for so long. Why was his character so pivotal? Damn I wish they would continue the series. And I don’t believer for 1 second that the ratings were low. That’s just BS!

  49. I agree with the comments here. I really enjoyed this show and was very sad to learn it was not renewed for a second season! I would love to see it come back even if they can’t get the same actors to reprise their roles.

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